The resent-repeat syndrome

familyIf you grew up in a family where you experienced injustice, abuse, or a sense of hurt, you’re at a high risk of developing a resent-repeat syndrome in your adult life.

You may end up repeating a familiar pattern from your past or you may go 180 degrees to an opposite pattern.

These actions result in your own children being deprived in a way that carries your emotional scars forward into the next generation.

The rule is this:

The more we resent something our parents did, the more likely we are either to unknowingly repeat it, or to try so diligently NOT to repeat it that we go to the opposite extreme.

Remember, 180 degrees from craziness is often another craziness.

An example is the child who grows up with very autocratic parents, the kind of parents who try to control all of the child’s behavior. These parents tell the child/teenager how much air to breathe, when to breathe, and how long to hold it!

This child, as an adult, may repeat the controlling, but familiar, pattern as a parent. Or he/she may become a laissez-faire parent who provides too little structure and too little guidance that their child may identify as “Not caring” or “Neglect”.

We’ve all seen children who grew up with extremely frugal parents who, as adults, become spendthrifts OR compulsive shoppers. These people may be so resentful about not being allowed to spend money that they buy things, take them home, and never open the packages. They may have a room or a garage full of unopened packages!

Another example is the children who grow up in clinically clean homes. As adults they may live in a pig-pen. Yet, ironically, another child from the same family may not have experienced the cleanliness as oppressive, and thus neither repeats it nor goes to the opposite extremes.

Why is this?

The challenge in dealing with events of the past is to let go for a moment and recognize that a part of all memories is our perception of the events.

“There are no facts, only interpretations!” ~ Nietzsche

Too often we put a meaning on an event and then freeze that meaning.

In family relationships it serves us well to select a meaning that will help us have the best life possible.

Too often the original meaning we chose, and froze, is limiting us and causing us pain. Selecting which meaning to put on an event is one part of life we have control over.

Why not select a meaning that helps not hurts?

One way to open up more possible meanings for a past event is to learn more about the past generations of our families.

By gaining information about our parents’ and grandparents’ childhoods and growing up experiences, we can learn how to let go of the frozen meanings and put new, more helpful meanings on events in our childhood, releasing our resentment.

For example, by learning about embarrassment a parent suffered while growing up poor, we may put a new meaning on her/his constant “penny pinching” during our childhood. Instead of resenting the stinginess, we may come to see the behavior as the parent’s determination never to be without money again. That’s when we let go of our resentment.

We neither repeat the behavior nor go 180 degrees to the opposite extreme.

That’s when we move toward the best life possible.

(photo source)

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